When the family tree is tipping
I glanced up while feeding the baby today at the one of only two walls in my home that bear any semblance of “home decorating” and had to smirk. Somehow in the chaos that has ensued here this past week, the tree painting on the family wall was all askew:
It seemed fitting. Saturday evening after what we thought was “a quick stomach bug” had ended, our friends came over to buy some hay. As Chris stood in the hall with his buddy Mark, he said perfectly calmly, “Hey, you’d better move over, you’re gonna get wet.” In a quick second, the craziness of what was happening clicked and he jumped into action, grabbing towels, calling for reinforcements, etc. We eventually had to turn the whole house water off to stop the flooding down the hallway. Simultaneously, I was outside, in the pasture overseeing goats and milking and such, musing about castration methods with my friend Sam. Rylee ran up to me and said “I don’t feel good” and promptly lost her dinner just shy of my boots. As I walked her inside, I heard the calls for help and towels and got wind of the “water emergency”. Um, yes, turns out the septic pump quitting and the subsequent “backing up” that happens, it indeed quite a crisis.
By the next morning, we realized our floors were buckling and we needed to call insurance, which we’ve never done so that was a whole new thing to figure out. They sent people out immediately to put up industrial fans to dry the floor and walls and rip out anything damaged. While I’m rinsing out throw up bowls (without running water), there are all these workers in our house. And the extra fun fact here? Though it was a weekend day, my hubby was filling in for our pastor who was on vacation….so he absolutely had to go to church. He apologetically departed and went to Safeway with a bottle of shampoo and washed his hair in the bathroom there so that he didn’t have to preach with serious bedhead. Initially, a good part of our downstairs was sequestered off with thick plastic and full of the big fans, but by this afternoon it looked like this:
Imagine fans so loud you can’t hear if someone is throwing up in the next room or calling Mom for help…seriously, they were loud. We went for a drive a few days ago to get a break and though all seemed okay, before we made it home someone was throwing up in the van. This went on for a couple days and by today, despite the continual stomach issues people were having (as in: “Mom, gross, help…Finn was playing on the deck but he just threw up all his chocolate cookies and the dog is eating it” and “Babe, I know you just got to work but I feel like I’m dying, you gotta come home right now”) we had to get out of here. We went “hiking” for a couple hours on a trail nearby and breathed deep the fresh, quiet air. It was therapeutic and wonderful even if it ended with me carrying an 8 month old on my back and a 35 pound three year old on the front.
The vintage, cutesy sign I bought for our anniversary was suddenly more than an art piece, it was us.
It was the way we shift into action in the midst of crisis and the way we both try to be gracious even though we feel like we’re about to snap. How he stayed up hours one night to do dishes and clean counters just so there was one space that didn’t look like this (after the clean up crew came and emptied out a closet into our schoolroom):
This is real life. It’s where the family tree either puts down deeper roots and survives the storm or topples over and gives up. We might have been blown around a bit this week. For sure. There were moments that left me feeling one step from crazy. But then as I’m weeding the garden and digging out the cat poo that is infiltrating my spinach, Finn says to Audrey, “Guess what? I like ants. I found an ant and I put it in my pants and its in there. Right now. I have an ant in my pull-up!”. Really, honestly? I laughed a lot. I told and retold the stories and made them seem like entertainment because the alternative, the sitting around in a puddle of tears, just doesn’t work so well.
My parents are in blistering heat halfway around the world sharing hope and love and LIFE with people who can’t imagine my fuss over losing a bathroom for a week or three. They’d be thrilled just to have a toilet. As I sweat it out in my laundry room next to the fans doing their (loud) work, I think of my mom who can’t stand hot weather, laying that down to go where God called, even if its 118 degrees. As I swish out yet another throw up bowl, I’m keenly aware that there is an incredible hospital an hour away from here chock full of children who would give anything to just have a bad bug for a week. They just want to live. Perspective is everything. It’s true.
So, for the record, we’re still standing folks. A bit bruised and weary but the fact remains:
We’re in this together.